Ontario provincial election – 2014 party platforms

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June 04, 2014

In the 2014 provincial election, the Green, Liberal, New Democratic and Progressive Conservative parties have made promises about everything from math scores to sports.

Here are some “quick facts” on the party platforms. Click here to download a pdf that compares the platforms by category.

Green Party

  • Create one public school system in Ontario, with English and French school boards
    • The Green Party promises to save $1.2 to $1.6 billion per year by merging the Catholic and Public school systems. They argue this would eliminate duplicated services and staff, and unnecessary bussing. The funding would be used to address issues such as school closings and a lack of teaching jobs.
  • Increase funding for special education
    • The Green platform references People for Education’s 2014 Report on Special Education which found that some students were being asked to stay home due to a lack of special education support or for safety reasons. By saving money on school board administration, the Green Party would have more to spend on services to support students with special educational needs.

Liberal Party

  • New funding for technology in schools
    • Over the next 3 years, the Liberals would provide $150 million to school boards to cover the costs of professional development for teachers, and to purchase tablets, software, cameras and other learning resources. People for Education’s report, Digital Learning in Ontario Schools, points to the need for increased funding in these areas.
  • New curriculum and more experiential learning for high school students
    • The Liberals will replace the current grade 10 careers and civics course so that students get more experiential learning in both components, and they will provide more support for guidance counsellors and new programs and policy for secondary schools to ensure that students are better prepared for future career, apprenticeship and/or post-secondary education choices.
    • The Liberal platform also promises $10 million to implement a new program for graduating high school students called “Experience Ontario.” The program will include nine months of paid community work and service.
  • Salary increases for some staff
    • Child care workers outside of school boards would receive a $2 per hour increase, to  bring their wages closer to the wages of early childhood educators who work in Full Day Kindergarten (FDK).
    • In the March education funding announcements, the Liberals promised a 2% increase for Elementary Teachers of Ontario (ETFO) members so that they are paid at the same rate as non-ETFO teachers.
  • Complete the implementation of Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) and support child care
    • FDK will be available in all schools, taught by a teacher/early childhood educator team. Boards must maintain average class sizes of 26 students.
  • Support student health
    • The Liberals will expand the Student Nutrition Program by $32 million over three years. They will also develop new programs to support partnerships between school boards and community organizations so that students will get 60 minutes of physical activity through intramural sports, before- and after-school programs, and other activities.
  • Review math curriculum and develop broader goals for education
    • A new “Math Action Plan” will include a review of current math curriculum, increased support for struggling students, encouragement for more teachers to get additional training to specialize in teaching math, and an assurance that all students will be taught basic math skills, including the times tables.
    • The Liberals plan to broaden the goals for education to include creativity, collaboration, problem-solving and entrepreneurialism. They will also develop a new high school specialization in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
  • New capital funding, action on declining enrolment
    • In funding announced in March, the Liberals committed to a new $750 million four-year fund to help boards consolidate schools (close or merge schools to deal with declining enrolment). The fund is to be used for renovations, additions and retrofits to schools. At the same time, cuts were announced to “top-up” funding, making it harder for boards to keep under-enrolled schools open.
    • To deal with a significant backlog in school repairs, the Liberals committed to $1.25 Billion in funding over three years to improve the condition of existing schools.

New Democratic Party

  • Hire 1,000 new Health and Physical education (H&PE) teachers by 2018
    • Currently no education funding is designated specifically for specialist teachers, so this promise will either mean developing a new funding category or – for elementary schools – providing more teachers overall, or more preparation time for classroom teachers, so that boards will have funding to hire specialist H&PE teachers.
    • This year’s P4E Annual Report on Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools shows that 47% of Ontario’s 3,978 elementary schools currently have specialist H&PE teachers. Only one third of those are full-time.
  • Hire 1,000 new educational assistants 
    • Under the NDP plan, funding for the new assistants would begin in 2016. Currently most educational assistants provide support in special education programs or in regular classrooms to students with special educational needs. Principals have identified insufficient educational assistants as a strain on the system. (see People for Education’s 2014 report on Special Education)
  • Provide $100 million for child care
    • The NDP will keep the wage increase for child care workers promised in the Liberal budget, and add increased funding for municipalities to support child care centres struggling to stay open because of losing 4 and 5 year olds to full day kindergarten.
  • Create a fund to keep more schools open
    • In the second year of their mandate, the NDP would create a $60 million fund to help more schools stay open. School boards would be able to apply for funding to cover the costs of keeping schools open, renovating schools so that buildings can be shared with other services, and/or reduce fees so that non-profit groups have greater access to buildings after school and on weekends. Enrolment has declined dramatically over the last decade, making it difficult to keep schools open. The Liberal budget provides incentives for boards to consolidate schools, including increased funding for renovations plus $28 million a year to boards for community use. There is no application process for the funding.
    • The NDP has also promised $45o million over three years in capital funding for the “education sector.” It is unclear if this is in addition to the $1.25 billion over 3 years in funding announced by the Liberals in March to support capital projects such as renovations to meet accessibility requirements.
  • Fund student nutrition programs
    • The platform promises $15 million per year for school nutrition programs. This is in addition to the current funding of approximately $21 million.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of standardized testing
    • The NDP promise to “explore the potential of alternative testing models,” and revise current standardized testing policy if necessary.

Progressive Conservative Party

  • New standarized test, focus on math, raise targets for test scores
    • The Conservatives have promised to focus on students’ basic math skills, increase the use of specialized math teachers in grades 4 to 6 (the platform doesn’t mention grades 7 and 8), and ensure that students learn multiplication tables.
    • The party also promised to raise targets for scores in reading, writing and math and introduce a new standardized test for science in Grade 8, as well as financial literacy curriculum.
    • The PCs would provide special financial incentives to attract more attract more university graduates who have math and science backgrounds into teaching.
  • Cuts to staff and changes to class size
    • The platform includes plans to cut 9,700 “non-teaching” staff (these could include educational assistants, school psychologists and social workers, as well as child and youth workers and others).
    • Class sizes in grades 1 to 3 are currently capped at 20 students. The PCs would increase that cap to 23 students. In grades 4 to 8, the mandatory average class size would grow from 24.5 students to 26, and in high school the mandatory average would increase from 22 to 24 students. The increased class sizes would result in cuts to teaching staff.
    • The PCs would not provide members of ETFO with the 2% increase to bring them in line with other teachers.
  • Changes to full day kindergarten
    • The current model for FDK calls for a teacher/early childhood educator team to teach classes with an average size of 26 students. The curriculum was specifically designed for this model and is based on play-based learning.
    • The PCs would fully implement FDK, but they would change the model significantly, providing one teacher for every 20 students with no early childhood educator.
  • Child care
    • The PC platform does not include any announcements on childcare.
  • Increase Daily Physical Activity
    • The Conservatives have promised that all students will get 45 minutes of daily physical activity through a combination of in-school activities and after-school sports.
  • Support for struggling students
    • The PC platform promises to use funding saved from cuts in other areas to support schools where the majority of students are struggling and to support students with special education needs.

To download a pdf that compares the platforms by category, click here.
To read the Green party platform, click here.
To read the Liberal platform, click here.
To read the NDP platform, click here.
To read the Progressive Conservative platform, click here.

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